Calgary Flames

The Calgary Flames should take a chance and sign Filip Zadina to a one-year deal

Craig Conroy had a clear mindset for the Flames in his first press conference. He was tired of Brad Treliving signing guys like Brett Ritchie, Dominik Simon, etc. before training camp, which prevented younger players getting a chance. Now, he’s promising that young players will get their fair shot and have opportunities to get spots with the Flames. With much turmoil surrounding Noah Hanifin, Mikael Backlund, Elias Lindholm, and more, this Flames team could look much different next year. So, it makes sense to bring as many young players into the lineup as you can and see what you have.

One young player that just became a free agent is 23-year-old Filip Zadina. He was recently waived by the Red Wings in attempts to find him a new place to play, but had no takers. So, the Red Wings and Zadina mutually agreed to part ways on Thursday, by placing him on unconditional waivers. This was a bit of a risky decision by Zadina, because he has two years left on a deal that pays him an AAV of $1.825M. But given the way his contract was structured, Zadina was actually owed $1.83M in 2023–24, and $2.73M in 2024–25. That is definitely a gamble to leave that much money on the table, but it shows the confidence Zadina has in himself.

Who is Filip Zadina?

Zadina is a 23-year-old that can play both right and left wing. He was drafted sixth overall in the 2018 NHL Draft by the Detroit Red Wings. Sixth overall is already a high draft slot, but that was even lower than the Czech winger was projected to land. He was heavily projected to go to the Canadiens at third overall or the Senators at fourth overall. Those teams passed on him for Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Brady Tkachuk, respectively. In response to being passed on, Zadina exclaimed that teams that passed on him will have their nets filled with pucks. That hasn’t happened yet, but Zadina is still young.

Zadina played parts of five seasons with the Red Wings, and had 28 goals and 68 points in 190 games for the franchise. His best season came in 2021–22, where he had 10 goals and 24 points in 74 games. Definitely not the production Zadina or the Red Wings expected or wanted in his NHL career thus far.

A deeper look into Zadina’s game

Zadina only played 30 games with the Wings last year, but ranked very highly in every major analytical category. Of players that played at least 20 games with the Red Wings in 2022-23, Zadina ranks 6th in CF%, 1st in SCF%, 1st in HDCF%, and 2nd in xGF%.

A look at Zadina’s Isolated 5v5 Impact, courtesy of, shows Zadina has improved season over season. In his two recent seasons, Zadina has flourished in the offensive zone, with a ton of shot attempts from close to the net and middle of the zone. The defensive side of the ice has never been a focus for Zadina, but it should be noted that he did have a good defensive season last year. It is important to note the sample size is small, and he played against weaker competition.

Corey Sznajder, who tracks NHL microstats at, tweeted about Zadina yesterday. His 2021–22 season was fruitful in terms of shots and deflections, but he left a lot of be desired in other areas of the ice. Corey follows up by tweeting about his 2022–23 season, which looks much better.

As Corey notes, Zadina got to the middle of the ice more, and was much more effective with chance and pass creation. But it’s important to consider that again, he only played 30 games and the majority of those minutes were against weaker competition. The Flames need guys that can put the puck in the back of the net, and Zadina has demonstrated he can do that if given the right opportunity. Could a line of Huberdeau – Sharangovich – Zadina work?

Zadina is a worthwhile player to gamble on

Giving Zadina a one-year deal at a price point under $1M is a gamble worth taking. If it works, you’ve found lightning in a bottle with a young player who you can use going forward. Zadina will no doubt be determined to play well and prove the Red Wings wrong. If it doesn’t work, you could waive Zadina and send him down to the AHL or to another team. There is no downside signing someone like Zadina.

I would imagine he probably looks to a team like Chicago that will give him a ton of opportunity and ice time, but he’s a worthwhile gamble if he wanted to come to Calgary. Moving Toffoli and letting Lucic and Lewis walk just opened up a major spot and some depth spots, so there are options available for Zadina and young players in Calgary’s system.

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